Notes, birds, nature, meanderings.

Musings about birds, nature, and our meanderings on the Central Oregon Coast

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Josephine Young Memorial Wayside (Siletz Bay)

Josephine Young Memorial Park is a tiny wayside tucked into the end of SW 65th Street in the Cutler City area.  The park offers shelter for songbirds in the brush and small conifers, and a short path leads to the edge of the bay. The mouth of Drift Creek can be reached by walking south along the beach, but only at low tide.
We've visited there twice, in November and December last year.  Our first visit the tide was mid and coming in, so we couldn't walk south but were able to walk north along the bay.  We saw our first MEW GULLS there, playing in the waters edge.
And when we returned in December, we saw our first SANDERLING.
The tide was lower and receding, but we didn't have enough daylight left to wait for enough beach to walk to the Drift Creek mouth (we've heard it's worth the mile hike!).
Josephine Young Memorial Park has about 3 parking spaces, a restroom, and some picnic benches.  Lovely quiet spot tucked amongst the homes there along the bay.  Also see "Birding Oregon", Chapter 37 "Siletz Bay Area" for information about birding this area.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

East Salishan Nature Trail

We took advantage of the gorgeous, sunny weather yesterday to satisfy our curiosity about the fabled East-side version of the Salishan Nature Trail.

Like the Salishan Nature Trail along the Siletz Bay (west of highway 101), the trail head is a little tricky to find, in spite of the large sign pointing the way.

Another sign pointed us in the direction of the lake (large pond) and away from the golfers.  At the lake we were greeted by a HERMIT THRUSH, a SPOTTED TOWHEE, and a SONG SPARROW. 

We saw only two more birds after that, although we heard quite a few throughout the walk.


We still couldn't see which way to go, so we decided to take the floating wooden bridge across the water.

There were, surprisingly, no birds on the water.  Seems like when we drive past it on the highway, there are usually ducks or geese there.

Once across, we were surprised to find that the path was a narrow trail, obviously maintained, but far rougher going than the easy stroll that allows two to easily walk side-by-side (a nice benefit of the Siletz-side trail).

The trail wandered through thick scrub as well as conifers, often crossing fallen logs.  Roots crossed the path in many spots, as you can see in this photo of the path. 

Not an easy walk, but beautiful and lush - full of (well-hidden) bird sounds.

We finally reached an area where the path split in three directions, and a sign gave us the option to continue or loop around toward "The Beach". 
Babbling Brook "Falls"

A criss-cross of rough boardwalks crossed a small stream with a lovely little waterfall.

While the boardwalks to the east were tantalizing, we chose to take the loop back toward the highway. 

The walk back was much easier, with a wider trail and easy side-by-side walking.  As we got nearer the lake, the path became a broad swath of mown grass.  We realized that's how we had missed the trail head!


Turns out the trail head is actually a grassy path along the north side of the lake.

With the sun moving lower in the sky and the temperature dropping, we took a last look across the lake and headed back under the highway to the car.

The East Salishan Nature Trail is a much tougher walk than the one by the bay - be prepared to stumble over roots and up and down slippery slopes.  Not "difficult", and not too lengthy (a mile perhaps?), but more of a hike than a stroll if you walk the whole loop.  We do plan to go back another day and see what the rest of the trail is like!

To reach the trail, park on the west side of 101 near the Golf Pro Shop and follow the golf-cart path under the highway.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Remembering Summer - Shore Acres State Park

Sitting here today with the wind and rain pounding against the windows, I thought a trip through the beautiful Shore Acres State Park was a perfect remedy for the mid-winter blues.  This past July we took a scenic trip down the Oregon coast on our way to our niece's first birthday party in Medford. 

Shore Acres is the former estate of a timber barron, with extensive formal gardens, treed acreage, and rocky ocean views complete with sunning sea lions.

I had visited the park years ago, and wanted to share the beautiful gardens and breathtaking views.

Sea lions sunning on the rocks below an overlook.

In spite of the July heat, the roses were stunning.  These yellow ones were favorites.

 A large lily pond near the middle of the grounds, offered a peaceful respite.

A salamander swimming lazily beneath the lilies. 

The many flowers tempted a variety of insects and hummingbirds. 

This torch lily attracted the attention of a young HUMMINGBIRD (RUFOUS or ALLEN'S).

Outside the garden gates, a BLACK TAILED DEER rummaged through a wilder wooded area.

SHORE ACRES is adjacent SUNSET BAY and CAPE ARAGO State Parks, southwest of COOS BAY, Oregon.  Each park has its own beauty, and is worth the time to visit.  Between the three, they offer camping, hiking, bird and nature observing, and easy scenic walks in a truly unique and varied landscape.  

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Dabblers and Divers at HMSC

We had a fun trip to Yaquina Bay, walking the Hatfield Marine Science Center trail along the bay.  Intrigued by the many varieties seen by the Lincoln County Auduboners yesterday, we had to swing by on our monthly trip to Fred Meyer and Walmart.

Waterfowl and sparrows are two areas where I struggle, and we saw plenty of both today.  Want to help me with some of the identification? 

First off we spotted a funny-looking duck, I believe it was a RED BREASTED MERGANSER?

Next a good sized flock of BRANT, along with some WESTERN and MEW (and possibly other) GULLS.
BRANT and Company
We enjoyed some favorites, SURF SCOTERS and BUFFLEHEADS.


A pair of HOODED MERGANSERS posed within fairly easy range of my small lens.  I believe this is a male and two females.

A large flock of NORTHERN PINTAIL were down toward the wooden bridge, along with a flock of AMERICAN WIGEON (no photos of the WIGEON).

This one we saw near the HMSC parking lot.  Trying to go by the field guides, I was guessing a type of GOLDENEYE, but I won't be surprised if I'm wrong.

 And here's one that I really have no idea.  We saw it floating in the bay when we were driving along the South Jetty road on our way home -- help anyone?



If I get enough help with these, maybe next I'll try posting all of the SPARROWS that we saw today.

Thanks in advance!

Siletz Bay - Salishan Nature Trail

We chose a cold, damp day (yesterday, January 8, 2011) to revisit the SALISHAN NATURE TRAIL that winds along the south side of Siletz Bay.  As we approached the trailhead, we were behind a man walking a large dog, and a couple walking their two dogs were just returning from walking there.  This lead me to think that there would be few birds to observe, except perhaps out on the bay.  I was wrong.


A strange cascade of feathers in the bay turned out to be a GREAT BLUE HERON taking an interesting approach to self-grooming.  It made an intriguing picture that I couldn't pass up. 

On the golf course side of the trail, a flock of AMERICAN ROBINS were taking advantage of the neatly clipped grass for their foraging.

We saw a good variety of sparrows as we walked, including WHITE CROWNED, GOLDEN CROWNED, FOX and SONG SPARROWS.   




I'm certain there were other sparrows as well.  There were almost too many birds to see - certainly too many to photograph on this drizzly day.


Even a TOWNSEND'S WARBLER was enjoying the damp grass.


On the bay side of the trail, hundreds of NORTHERN PINTAIL floated on the quiet water, interspersed with some diving ducks like BUFFLEHEAD and WHITE WINGED SCOTER.

What's a diver to do when the dabblers all dabble?

We again took the narrow trail to the north, which put us between a reedy marsh and the bay.  


In a reedy nook, a pair of MALLARDS took advantage of a quiet refuge,

while a GREAT BLUE HERON watched the water intently for his next meal.

Heron in the rain, my favorite photo of the day
Along the trail, a SONG SPARROW danced along beside us, posing intermittently. 
A flock of small birds, including CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEE, KINGLETS and YELLOW RUMPED WARBLERS flitted around our heads.  The overhanging conifers combined with the rain made the area too dark to get good pictures of them.



We did get a slightly blurry photo of a bright red HOUSE FINCH, and one of his female companion.

They were part of a small flock that noisily occupied the area.

A female DOWNY WOODPECKER made a brief appearance in an area that was bright enough to get a snapshot.

We saw two HUMMINGBIRDS along the trail.  We didn't get a good look at the first one.  The second was in this area with the overhanging trees - I believe it was a male ANNA'S.  As we watched it hovering near a large conifer, we startled a LARGE RAPTOR from the tree.

We didn't get a good enough look to ID it.  I photographed it in flight, but the photos silhouetted the bird against the sky (still learning about camera settings!).  

We took a quick look at the marsh where we had seen the GREEN HERON last fall, but the rain was falling in earnest and we were cold and pretty much soaked to the skin. 

On our walk back to the car, we enjoyed the teasing of a RUBY CROWNED KINGLET, and another YELLOW RUMPED WARBLER in the brush on the trail's edges.

Turning south (back in the car), we adjourned to JACK'S STEAK 'N SEAFOOD for an excellent burger and a little bit of Sunday night football to warm up and dry out.

Salishan Nature trail is about a mile in length, with ocean access at the west end.  We only walked about half of it yesterday.  Trail access is behind the Salishan gift shops on the west side of Highway 101.